Some 1,000 children and 4,000 adults receive services annually.
By William K. Alcorn
The Safety Net Dental Care Program at St. Elizabeth Health Center’s Dental Residency Program has received the 2012 Ohio Department of Health James F. Quilty Champions of Oral Health Award for outstanding service to underserved, low-income children and adults.
The state health department presents the award annually to individuals or organizations that carry on Dr. Quilty’s legacy of positively impacting the oral health of Ohioans.
The St. Elizabeth dental residency program, “A Collaborative Effort to Expand Capacity and Improve Access to Dental Care,” was chosen for the award because of its success in increasing the number of children, elderly, medically compromised, special-needs and low-income adults receiving dental care, ODH officials said.
In 2012, the program provided dental care and education to some 1,000 children and about 4,000 adults in the Mahoning Valley who cannot afford it, said Dr. M. Frank Beck, director of the program.
During the first nine months of 2012, HMHP’s Safety Net Oral Health Program provided 26,978 services to 3,307 not-duplicated patients during 7,105 patient visits. The volumes were up 25 percent from 2011.
Currently, 68 percent of the dental clinic’s patients have no insurance and incomes low enough to qualify for the sliding-fee minimum payment, officials said.
An ODH grant received by the dental program to offset the cost of uncompensated care provided is “being spent the way it should be,” said Susan Kiefer, ODH oral-health consultant, in presenting the award to Dr. Beck on Tuesday at the dental clinic.
He accepted the award with “great pride and much humility,” and said winning it was a team effort between Humility of Mary Health Partners senior leadership providing capital for space and equipment and the dental program staff, faculty and dental residents.
Dr. Beck said the dental-residency program, which has provided oral-health care to underserved children and adults since the mid-1970s, has grown to meet the growing demand and needs of the patients.
Most recently, the program increased the number of dental residents, and the dental clinic was expanded from a four- to eight-operatory clinic. In addition, the program supports a mobile dental service and uses two mobile dental buses to provide comprehensive dental-health services and education throughout Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
The HMHP health system and HMHP Foundation provided more than $500,000 of the dental clinic’s expansion and renovation. Other grants and money for the project were received from The Anthem Foundation of Ohio; the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; ODH; the Ohio Dental Association Foundation; CareSource of Ohio; Ronald McDonald House Charities; United Way of Youngstown and he Mahoning Valley; and the “Heart of the Mission” Valley Health Award, hospital officials said.